Daily Archives: September 6, 2018

Daybreak and NantWorks to Put H1Z1 and EverQuest on Your Phone or Something

Too much has been announced today for me to fully process this tidbit of news about Daybreak, long a topic of study around here, and NantWorks, about which I can find little to nothing about on the web.  They are a holding company of some sort with a variety of ventures, all of which have the “Nant” prefix as part of their name.

It follows you as you move about the room!

So the two companies have announced a joint venture, a term that takes me back to the Gorbachev era and my Soviet Studies class… crap, this is Daybreak, I shouldn’t bring up Russians… but which has meaning outside of that context.  It is just where my brain goes.

Anyway, the press release has a lot of fluff and misdirection, but I think the upshot is that they want to join forces, each bringing their alleged expertise to create NantG Mobile, which will, if I am deciphering it correctly, end up with new mobile and Windows versions of H1Z1 which will now be called Z1 Battle Royale, because they haven’t changed the name enough already?

You will need to update the shirt

Do they want to take back the market from Fortnite, which ate PUBG‘s lunch after PUBG ate H1Z1‘s lunch by creating a new esports league complete with physical location?  Also, the LA Times will start covering esports in their sports section, because newspaper coverage was what was holding back esports all this time I guess.

Oh, and a mobile version of EverQuest as well.  Because reasons?

Anyway, the press release quoted for posterity:

NANTWORKS MAKES STRATEGIC INVESTMENT IN DAYBREAK GAME COMPANY AND ESTABLISHES VIDEO GAME PUBLISHING JOINT VENTURE, NANTG MOBILE

NantG Mobile to Co-Develop Next Generation Game Publishing Platform

LA Times Center and NantG Mobile to Establish E-Sports Leagues Across Multiple Games Beginning with Z1 Battle Royale, the Revitalized H1Z1 Battle Royale Game

Los Angeles – Sept. 6, 2018 – NantWorks, a diversified holding company, today announced that it has made a strategic investment in Daybreak Game Company, a leading developer and publisher of multiplayer online games. In connection with the investment, NantWorks has obtained a controlling interest in a new joint venture with Daybreak, NantG Mobile, LLC, which has been formed to develop and publish mobile versions of Daybreak’s current games – H1Z1 and EverQuest – and to build and publish video games across all platforms. In addition, the JV will now assume control and management of the current PC H1Z1 Battle Royale game. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, CEO and Chairman of NantWorks and Owner and Executive Chairman of the Los Angeles Times, will join Daybreak’s board of directors.

Daybreak Game Company is the developer and publisher of the highly popular, first-ever standalone battle royale game, H1Z1®: Battle Royale, which is currently available on PC and has amassed more than 12 million players on PlayStation 4 to date. Its games portfolio includes the EverQuest MMO franchise, PlanetSide 2, DC Universe Online, The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online. The San Diego-based gaming studio is privately owned by Jason Epstein, who serves as Chairman of the Board.

“Daybreak Games is pleased to have NantWorks as our investment partner to support and accelerate the growth of our company,” said Epstein. “Working with NantWorks, NantStudio and Dr. Soon-Shiong will allow us to maintain our cutting-edge development in the video game industry and to benefit from Nant’s technological expertise and reach as a resource.”

“I am delighted that our software capabilities at NantWorks, together with the creative expertise and infrastructure at NantStudio – which includes our low latency fiber network, will help accelerate the development of the platform at Daybreak, a company with history dating back to its origins as Sony Online Entertainment,” said Soon-Shiong. “Their achievements in the development of gaming technology have contributed greatly to this emerging field of virtual sports and we view this medium as an important media engagement engine.”

“Daybreak’s well tested game engine currently running Everquest and H1Z1, combined with the proprietary next generation mobile game engine which we will develop and launch in the joint venture, are platforms which will enable unprecedented scale and provide enjoyment to millions of simultaneous players,” said John Wiacek, NantG Mobile’s Head of Game Engine Development.

NantWorks is currently planning construction of an LA Times Center adjacent to the new Los Angeles Times headquarters in El Segundo. The LA Times Center will include an event space, LA Times production studio and e-sports arenas with fiber inter-connectivity at a global scale. The LA Times Center will serve as a convening hub for the community and a venue where NantG Mobile will establish e-sports leagues for multiple game titles, starting with Z1 Battle Royale, a revitalized PC-based version of H1Z1: Battle Royale.

Separately, the Los Angeles Times will soon be adding coverage of e-sports competitions in its Sports section.

“The growth of virtual sports has been explosive,” said Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine. “We look forward to covering all the major games companies, including Daybreak.”

So what does all that add up to?  What does it mean when they refer to Daybreak’s current games as just H1Z1 and EverQuest? (Though elsewhere they mention other games, including the ones they “publish” for Standing Stone.)  What does a “revitalized version of H1Z1″ mean?  And what are they talking about, this well tested game engine that runs both EverQuest and H1Z1?  Are we talking about the same EverQuest here, the one from 1999?  Or the one from 2004?  Or some new, as yet unannounced EverQuest that might be new enough to share engines with H1Z1?

And is this new esports league going to be different than the current esports league that Daybreak is doing so well with?

I do see that they very specifically got in that Daybreak is privately owned by Jason Epstein, a point they have been very unclear about in the past.

Anyway, we shall see if there are any follow up explanations or clarifications forthcoming, because it all seems about as clear as mud to me.

Hat tip to the esteemed Feldon, late of the EQ2 Wire, for spotting this.

Other coverage:

WildStar to Succumb at Long Last

Back in 2013 it was WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online who were going to buck the free to play trend as both pledged to make MMORPGs that were able to sustain the monthly subscription model.  The Elder Scrolls Online didn’t want to pollute their game with the necessary evils that come with free to play and WildStar thought they had an out in their PLEX-like CREDD idea.

WildStar went live in June of 2014 while The Elder Scrolls Online was up and running in April of the same year, and before too long it became a coin toss as to which would have to go free to play first.

The Elder Scrolls Online blinked first and announced the end of mandatory subscriptions in January of 2015.  WildStar held out until May of the same year before announcing a free to play option.  Neither made it a full twelve months before they had to conform to the reality of the market.

But, while The Elder Scrolls Online went on to adapt and even thrive, the same could not be said for WildStar.  It got an initial boost, but soon sagged.  Likewise, it jumped on to the Steam bandwagon looking for more players, only to find little help and mixed reviews on that front. In the mean time its low revenue numbers stood out every three months in the NCsoft quarterly reports, until NCsoft stopped listing the game at all in in its reports.

NCsoft Sale by IP – Q2 2017 – No WildStar mentioned

And so the death watch began.  NCsoft, which had built up a reputation for rather brutally shutting down games that were not making the cut, including the beloved City of Heroes, inexplicably let WildStar linger on.

The time has finally come.  A story over at Kotaku indicated that staff were informed at a meeting today that Carbine, the studio founded by former World of Warcraft devs who went on to create WildStar, was closing and the game would be shutting down.  The statement quoted was as follows:

Today, we are closing Carbine Studios and will begin the process of winding WildStar down to ultimately shutter the game,” NCSoft said in a statement. “WildStar players who have spent money within the game will be refunded purchases from July 1, 2018 until the payment system is shut off. We are also in the process of identifying the teams that will be doing the work to bring WildStar to a close. These decisions are very difficult to make and we are in the midst of shifting as many of our teammates as possible into other roles within the organization.

It isn’t clear how long WildStar will remain up and running, but with the staff having been given their notice, it cannot have much time left.  If you want a last look at the game I wouldn’t wait around.  Log in now to get your fill and take your final screen shots.

As of this post the WildStar web site is still up and advertising the game as normal, inviting people to create accounts and come play.  No word of the closure has yet been posted though one of the community team did confirm the story in Kotaku in the forums.

Coverage and reactions:

CCP to be Acquired by Maker of Black Desert Online for $425 Million

Enemy on island. Issue in doubt.

-Commander Winfield Cunningham, Wake Island, December 1941

Well, we all knew things were not going well for CCP.  They had, near the end of last year, laid off a chunk of staff… again… after a new game, EVE Valkyrie, into which they had poured development time and resources failed to take off… again.

So we had to at least suspect that something was coming.  My double bonus extra credit prediction for 2018, made back on January first, was:

CCP will announce they are merging with, or being acquired by, another studio before the end of 2018.

Such was the mood of the time.  And while the year went on and we got bits of good news about games being made in partnership with other studios, with CCP’s main contribution being the EVE Online IP and art assets, I suppose nothing really changed overall.

Still, it was a surprise to see this tweet this morning.

In case that doesn’t come through due to AdBlock… or it getting deleted some day… it announces that CCP is to be acquired by Pearl Abyss, the makers of Black Desert Online.

I guess Pearly Abyss is a name we’ll be hearing a lot more now.

A new addition to the logo page

Venture Beat reports the price of the acquisition at $425 million.  That is less than the $1 billion that was being bandied about as a number by Bloomberg two years back, but still a sizable amount, and better than bankruptcy.

CCP has a press release up about the acquisition as well.  It says a lot of nothing, as such press releases must, but I’ll quote it here for posterity.

SEOUL – September 6, 2018 – Today, Black Desert Online developer Pearl Abyss announced that it will acquire CCP Games, the creators of popular spaceship MMORPG EVE Online. The deal outlines that CCP Games will continue to operate independently as a developer with studios in Reykjavik, London and Shanghai, while integrating the company’s extensive development and publishing expertise into Pearl Abyss’ operations for all current and future projects.

EVE Online is a space-based, persistent world MMO game, developed by CCP’s Reykjavik studio. The game first launched in 2003 and has since gained recognition for its scale and complexity with regards to player interactions in EVE’s single, shared game world. EVE Online is one of the most critically-acclaimed MMORPG intellectual properties (IPs) in North America and Europe, and one of the most extensive works of science fiction in the world.

Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung stated, “We are thrilled to have CCP Games join our team as Black Desert Online continues to branch out globally. CCP is a seasoned publisher with over 15 years of digital distribution experience and know-how. They have done an incredible job of engaging and maintaining their playerbase, which we aim to learn from and hope to integrate natively into Pearl Abyss’ general practices across all our games. I am confident CCP’s reputable IP and expertise in global publishing will help reaffirm our company’s dedication to developing and servicing the world’s best MMORPGs.”

“I have been seriously impressed with what Pearl Abyss has achieved ever since I first visited their website for Black Desert Online and subsequently became an avid player of the game,” said CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. “Pearl Abyss is a fast-growing company with lots to offer in terms of technology, capability and vision. I believe our two companies have a lot to learn from each other. We are very excited to join forces with them and achieve great new heights for our companies, our games and – above all – our players.”

Birgir Már Ragnarsson of Novator Partners and Chairman of CCP commented, “As lead investor in CCP for over 13 years alongside General Catalyst and NEA, we’ve seen CCP go from being a few dozen people strong to employing hundreds all over the world, with an ever-increasing customer base and multiple titles. CEO Hilmar V. Pétursson and his dedicated team have built a company that Novator and its partners are proud to hand over to Pearl Abyss and we wish them the best of luck in their future ventures.”

Pearl Abyss first launched its open-world MMORPG, Black Desert Online, in Korea in 2014. The game has received critical acclaim for its advanced graphics, seamless world, large-scale castle sieges and action-based combat system. Since Pearl Abyss’ initial public offering in 2017, the company has worked to secure competitive global IPs, such as EVE Online, through strategic investments and M&A activity.

Pearl Abyss saw record-high sales in the first half of 2018, following the launch of Black Desert Mobile in Korea. The company is looking forward to another strong year in 2019 with EVE Online and the upcoming global launch of Black Desert Mobile.

Deutsche Bank is acting as financial advisor to Pearl Abyss, and Kim & Chang is providing legal counsel. The Raine Group is acting as financial advisor to CCP Games, and White & Case LLP and LOGOS are providing legal counsel.

There is a Reddit AMA scheduled for tomorrow where, I am sure, we will be told everything is fine and nothing will change and that EVE Online will stay as it is or some such.

Hat tip to Rhavas… CCP Guard addressing the CSM

We will see some of this as well I am sure.

EVE Online Forever

And maybe it will be so.

But, having been through many acquisitions over my own career, in this stage of things it is in the interest of both companies to maintain the status quo and reassure everybody that there won’t be any significant changes.  That sort of news has to wait until the acquisition is complete and things have settled down a bit.

After all, everything was all light and happiness when SOE became Daybreak.  The layoffs came later.

So we’ll hear nothing of substance while those who love EVE Online fear the future and those who hate it hope that this will mean radical change.  The truth in the end will likely be less than anybody hopes for.  Expect lots of comparisons and memes.  So many memes.

(7:14:42 AM) directorbot@goonfleet.com: all characters must have at least 420 attack skill and 330 defense skill by next tuesday. If you don’t have the time to grind isk, you can purchase boosts from the store.

~~~ This was a broadcast from kcolor to opt-all at 2018-09-06 14:14:43.856271 EVE ~~~

I guess it might be time to see what Black Desert Online sells in their cash shop.  Maybe Jin’taan will get his cat ears after all.

Coverage of the story: